The Gospel’s Goal
Committed as a Messenger (1:24–27)
Paul shifts this letter’s focus to a description of his ministry. The Colossians, who have only heard of Paul, needed to understand his letter’s purpose.
Difficulties and hard work have characterized his entire ministry. Let’s face it; authentic ministry often involves suffering of which Paul was most acquainted (see 2 Cor. 11:16–33). In fact, he penned this letter from prison. In spite of Paul’s sufferings, he rejoiced because everything was done with the Colossians in mind. No, Paul wasn’t sadistic. He found no thrill in physical trials. He was able to rejoice, however, because his struggles helped others.
The statement “I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (ESV) has numerous interpretations. Jesus’ sufferings on the cross were complete, therefore Paul is not stating that Christ’s passion or suffering was somehow insufficient. Instead, Paul means he suffered on behalf of Christ. The world, looking to persecute Christ, turns its attention to His followers (see John 15:18–21).
Paul has been called by God to make the Word fully known. Paul reveals the mystery is Jesus is the only way for salvation, and God has chosen to include the Gentiles (see Eph. 3:1–6). This unprecedented truth is Jesus Christ lives in all who trust Him.
Focused on Maturity (1:28–29)
Jesus wants to present His people to God holy and spotless. Paul’s ambition is to be pleasing unto the Lord. Therefore, he proclaimed Christ, warned everyone and taught everyone with all wisdom so he could present everyone mature in Christ. “Everyone” is repeated three times, emphasizing every Christian is capable of and expected to move to maturity.
Humanly speaking, the task of laboring to help new believers grow in Christ would be daunting and impossible. Christianity was in its infancy, and the whole world was against Paul and Christ’s church. Since God desires Christians to grow to maturity, He empowered and enabled Paul to complete this task (1:29).
Verse 29 is a key to Christian ministry, stating that Christ powerfully works within Paul (that is, all believers). Since it is Christ and not Paul, He is not overcome with either pride or fear. Paul becomes an example of the maturity that he seeks to produce under God. The calling of Christian teachers and preachers is not primarily to comment on current affairs or politics, to discuss games or even seek to alleviate human affairs. Instead, teachers and preachers must proclaim Jesus is Lord as they struggle to present everyone mature in Christ.
Concerned for the Faithful (2:1–3)
These first few sentences overflow with Paul’s love for those in Colossae and Laodicea. A careful examination of these three verses shows Paul’s deep concern for all faithful believers. Paul’s particular concern for them is significant because the Colossians had never seen nor heard Paul speak.
Paul writes to encourage these believers to stick together in love. Unity in love is crucial for the young church to move to maturity.
If we are concerned for other believers, we will do all within our power for them to dive into the beauty and depth of the love of Christ as revealed in the gospel. The gospel’s goal is maturity. Will you demonstrate maturity by encouraging faithfulness in others?